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Umsebenzi Online

Volume 3, No. 13, 7 July 2004

In this Issue:


Red Alert

An ANC U-Turn, or the progressive consolidation of a majority left consensus?

By Blade Nzimande, General Secretary

Since the overwhelming April ANC election victory, government ministers have spoken with increasing confidence about the importance of an active and strategic public sector. The incoming Minister of Public Enterprises, cde Alec Erwin, for instance, has said categorically there will be no whole-sale privatisation of strategic public entities like Transnet, Eskom or Denel in the next five years.

These policy indicators were given a more general ideological underpinning by President Mbeki when he spoke in the parliamentary debate on the Presidency's budget vote. Cde Mbeki's views were entirely reasonable and pertinent, articulating a set of broad left social values.

It is a mark of the ideological and moral parochialism of much political commentary in our country that these views should nonetheless have provoked consternation in some quarters.

The editor of South Africa's leading business daily, Peter Bruce, asked partly in jest, partly in exasperation: "What is going on? Has President Thabo Mbeki lost his mind? Has he lost his temper? His patience? Or has he just lost his faith?" (Business Day, June 25, 2004). Others spoke of a "dramatic U-turn" in ANC economic policy, and of a "dangerous lurch towards socialism".

So what is the truth? And what is the SACP's view of these matters?

Yes, there has been a growing conviction, from the side of senior ANC leadership and from government, that the developmental challenges of our country require an active and strategic public sector. This growing conviction has, in part, been born of frustration and disappointment with the private sector, and its blatant inability to lead economic transformation over the last decade, notwithstanding many "investor friendly" macro and micro-policies.

Since 1994, there has been an important stabilisation of the so-called "first economy", sustained, if modest, growth has been restored after a decade of negative growth, and capitalist profitability restored. The defeat of apartheid has opened up new markets for South African capital, not least in the rest of Africa. But if democracy has been generally good for South African capitalism, capitalism has signally failed democracy in South Africa. There has been a concerted capitalist attack on the working class, with mass retrenchments and casualisation.

Capital in South Africa has also massively appropriated a greater share of surplus to itself at the expense of those who are still at work. The pre-tax profits of listed companies rose 52 percent in 2002, for instance. The earnings of executive directors mirrored this growth, rising just over 22 percent. Fees paid to non-executive directors rose 19 percent. But workers' minimum wages rose just 0,41 percent, and with inflation running at more than 10 percent, this means that average real wages fell, workers earning the minimum wage were poorer at the end of 2002 than at the beginning. And this trend has continued through 2003.

It is against the background of fact like this that there is a growing disenchantment with capitalism within the leading sectors of government. But while these shifts are welcome, they should not be exaggerated - for two main reasons. They neither represent something totally new within ANC politics, nor are they as extreme as some pretend to make them.

The idea that there has been a dramatic "U-turn" in policy comes mainly from those who, over the last decade, have attempted from the outside to put words into the mouths of senior ANC leaders. Liberals (and, indeed, various anti-ANC ultra-left groups) have portrayed government policies as uncomplicatedly "free market capitalism". The same quarters present our democracy as inherently "bourgeois". Our Constitution (in the words of Tony Leon) is "essentially liberal democratic".

Both liberals and the ultra-left have been wrong in their simplistic portrayal of the complexities of dealing with an imperialist-dominated global economy, and in their cut-and-dry characterisation of what is, in fact, a contradictory and contested domestic transition.

Our Constitution, for instance, does embody progressive liberal ideals (multi-party democracy, individual rights, checks and balances). The SACP unambiguously supports these features of our democracy - after all, they were not bestowed upon our country by a generous bourgeoisie. They had to be fought for over many decades by a radical, Third World national movement that was essentially working-class in character.

What is more (as examples close to hand in our region emphasise), the working class and poor are usually the first to suffer when an authoritarian bureaucracy rides roughshod over democratic checks and balances, and when multi-party democracy is curtailed. We are also acutely aware of severe limitations of liberalism. Hence our commitment to thorough going national democratic transformation and socialism, as the only basis for a genuine effort towards poverty eradication and equality.

Leon and others like him are also quite wrong to reduce our Constitution to liberalism. Like the Freedom Charter before it, our Constitution embodies and goes beyond the progressive content of liberalism, and then transcends the individualistic, imperialism-blind, race-blind, gender-blind, class-blind, and under-development-blind limitations of classical liberalism. Our Constitution certainly affirms "first generation" human rights, but it also affirms "second" and "third" generation rights - collective rights, national self-determination rights, cultural rights, working class rights, women's rights, and the need for environmental sustainability.

These are some of the basics that cde Mbeki was touching upon in the course of his budget debate. He quoted extensively from the British political commentator Will Hutton, whose most recent work (The World We're In) is a ringing critique of US-style neo-liberalism. Against this globally dominant brand of individualism, Hutton advocates the social values of traditional European social democracy, respect for the public sector and a spirit of social solidarity.

Concluding a long quotation from Hutton, cde Mbeki says: "There can be no doubt about where we stand with regard to this great divide. It is to pursue the goals contained in what Hutton calls the 'broad family of ideas that might be called left' that we seek to build the system of governance we indicated today and in previous Addresses. The obligations of the democratic state to the masses of our people do not allow that we should join those who 'celebrate individualism and denigrate the state.'"

In his responding speech at the close of the debate, cde Mbeki took some of these ideas further. He sharply attacked the leader of the DA, Tony Leon, and his Thatcherite notion that society is composed of individuals and not groups.

"If this has any meaning, it constitutes a vain attempt to eradicate our history", cde Mbeki observed. "Africans as a national group did not and do not exist. What we had and have are merely individual Africans, who were oppressed as individuals and who suffer from the legacy of racism as individuals. They did not come together as a national group to fight oppression... And since there are no classes, only individuals, the workers are also wrong to have combined in trade unions."

The SACP, naturally, warmly endorses all of this. We have always held that, while the ANC has never been a socialist organisation, it certainly is not anti-socialist either. The ANC is, quite properly, a broad left formation, home to a variety of progressive ideological currents. The ANC, with its 70% electoral majority, is at the very centre of South African politics. But, as we have also long maintained, in South Africa the centre is (it has to be) LEFT.

These important value statements from our President, like the many positive socio-economic policy indications and commitments from the ANC election manifesto and government in the recent period, once more reaffirm these basic truths. They create a constructive climate in which meaningful and ongoing discussion and debate can be carried forward.

We make this last point so that none of us exaggerates. The Peter Bruces of the world have tried to be ventriloquists, putting neo-liberalism into the mouth of the ANC. It would be equally misguided and inaccurate for the SACP to now read Marxism or socialism into every government policy statement.

The government has said there will be no major privatisations in the next five years. But it has not said what will happen thereafter. Is Transnet needed as a strategic public entity simply to address a short-term infrastructural back-log that will then make South African capitalism more competitive? Or is a strong and democratic public sector the kernel of a different kind of society in the making? A society in which meeting social needs is prioritised over private profits?

This, like many other matters, remains an open question within our broad Alliance. What is certain, however, is that, with a decade of governance experience behind us, learning from our successes and weaknesses, and constantly dynamised by our organic interaction with the working class and poor, together, we are forging a progressive left consensus. It is a consensus on the basic values of our ongoing democratic revolution. Within that consensus, many discussions and debates lie ahead.

Some important propositions on building strong and progressive public sector unions and independent working class power for sustainable livelihoods  

(Address by Blade Nzimande to NEHAWU Congress, Pretoria - 27 June 2004)

The SACP brings revolutionary greetings to this NEHAWU Congress, and wishes to thank you most profoundly for extending an invitation for an SACP delegation to participate in this important gathering. For the SACP it is always a pleasure and our historic duty to be part of these workers' parliaments. As Lenin said in 1900, the political future of the working class and its victory can only be guaranteed if the labour and communist movements unite. If they go different ways it is only to the detriment of the struggle of the working class.

Your Congress takes place in the year in which we are celebrating 10 years of freedom. Therefore you should treat your Congress as part of these celebrations. We also take this opportunity to congratulate the role that NEHAWU and its members have played in building a new country and a new democracy over the last ten years.

I have been asked to speak about the importance of building strong and progressive public sector unions as a critical component of building independent working class power. I have decided to structure my input around 6 key propositions, within which I attempt to identify tasks for NEHAWU and the working class as a whole. By propositions in this instance, I mean a set of assumptions from which we must proceed if we are to build a strong NEHAWU, a strong Alliance and deepen the NDR in favour of the workers and the poor. These propositions are our point of departure and the standpoint from which we must undertake the challenges before us. They are part of our political and ideological framework.

Proposition 1: The ANC's electoral victory in the 2004 elections is principally a class mandate from the workers and the poor

Let us first take this opportunity to congratulate NEHAWU and its members and cadres for the role they played in the ANC's overwhelming victory in the 2004 elections. NEHAWU has proven itself that is a solid ally and a union conscious of its broader societal and political responsibilities.

At its last Central Committee the SACP undertook an extensive evaluation of the elections, the election campaign and the meaning of the election results. The key conclusion reached by the Central Committee was that this victory is, at its core, a class mandate from the workers and the poor to deepen transformation and address the twin challenges of creating work and fighting poverty. The SACP Central Committee argued along these lines for a number of reasons.

The 70% election majority of the ANC and the new gains in the provinces of KZN and WC were, quite clearly, obtained through organic re-engagement with the workers and the poor. The campaign was fought and won, over many months, in government izimbizo, in activist door-to-door work, in townships, informal settlements, and rural villages. It was fought and won in the localities where working class power and hegemony is at its most concentrated. The door-to-door campaign exposed all of our organisations and our leading cadre to the moral hegemony of workers and the poor.

Contributing directly to the victory was a year and a quarter of greatly improved alliance unity. The campaign was used by the ANC to rejuvenate itself, and it was used by the popular masses of our country to engage with national leadership, to impress upon this leadership an appreciation of advances made, and a frustration at the persisting problems.

The campaign, the unity of the alliance, and the organic re-connection with a mass base has also markedly impacted upon the policy priorities and perspectives of the ANC-led government. The priority of work retention and creation and of sustainable livelihoods has come much more prominently to the fore. The imperative of a strong public and parastatal sector, and the critique of the systemic weaknesses of the capitalist accumulation path in South Africa are more emphasised.

There is no more central an issue to the working class than creating work and poverty eradication. In the post election period we also take heart at some of the political developments underlining many of the perspectives, arguments and programmes of the working class over the last ten years. This includes the President's state of the nation address that firmly places government on a course to tackle the issue of jobs and poverty. We also welcome the increased emphasis on the leading role of the state in driving economic transformation and the strengthening of the public sector, including parastatals, in line with calls by the working class in recent years. We welcome government consideration of legislation to curb casualisation of labour, the strengthening of the SETAs and firm commitment to keep strategic parastatals in the hands of the state.

A key challenge for the ANC and its alliance is: How do we sustain, post-elections, the organic connection with our mass base and the ideological and strategic orientation that this has dynamised?

There are several key tasks:

  • The working class must claim its victory. This it can do by being in the forefront of the implementation of the ANC Manifesto and all its commitments. For a union like NEHAWU in particular, attention should be paid to those areas in the Manifesto that relates to its sector, and we hope this Congress will identify those, in order to ensure that public sector workers are in the forefront. This is important in order to ensure that other class forces do not steal this victory for their narrow class interests.
  • We must sustain the mass character of the ANC at its grass-roots levels, building on its mass-volunteer base. In particular, ANC structures need to engage actively with local-level campaigns and particularly with ensuring that IDPs are discussed and debated in communities, that councillors are held responsible and are in dynamic contact with communities. Cadres of NEHAWU have a responsibility to ensure that in their own localities this does indeed take place
  • The Alliance must also be united and mobilised around these tasks - but I shall return to this matter later.
  • Task of NEHAWU and the working class as a whole is to subject all public sector restructuring to a simple test - is it creating jobs and eradicating poverty? If not, it is not in line with the ANC's election manifesto and the government's programme!

Proposition 2: Government is the most important state apparatus, but the state is broader than just government

It is important for public sector workers to understand this important issue. Government is the most important pillar of the state, but it is not the totality of the state. The state is also made up of other institutions and apparatuses - the judiciary, parliament, state-owned enterprises, and institutions supporting democracy, the Reserve Bank, etc. Most importantly the state is not a static structural entity but it is a contested terrain. Therefore at the same time it is a concentration of contested power and struggles to shape its role and character. At the core of these struggles and contestation is the class orientation of the state, and which class forces is it serving?

The lesson out of this reality is that control of government is a necessary but not sufficient condition to transform the state. It is possible that progressive forces can control government, but reactionary and even counter-revolutionary forces control and dominate other state apparatuses in a manner that could undermine and even defeat government. In Chile in 1973 a socialist government was overthrown largely because reactionary forces used other apparatuses of the state to frustrate government programme, thus deliberately instigating a coup.

In our own situation we have these realities. For example whilst our constitution guarantees equality for all, sections of the judiciary still, for instance, acquit some white farmers who continue to murder their black workers, whilst handing down heavy sentences for crimes against white farmers. This section of the state is in essence acting in a particular class and racial way, thus undermining the gains that our struggle has made.

It therefore becomes important that we critically examine measures like corporatisation and creation of institutions that are said to be independent. Whilst it is important to have institutions that have to act impartially to protect our democracy, but in a class society we must ask the question: WHICH CLASS FORCES OR IDEOLOGY IS DOMINANT WITHIN THOSE INDEPENDENT STATE INSTITUTIONS?

Of course, in our situation, much as social class is the most fundamental contradiction, the gender and national (racial) contradictions still remains, respectively the most pervasive and dominant contradictions in our society. Therefore transformation of the state means addressing the class, national and gender contradictions in their interrelationship.

I am raising this in order to highlight the point that the task of transforming the apartheid state into a people's state is a task that is far from over. A union located in government and other state structures like NEHAWU has an important role in ensuring that state structures are transformed to advance the interests of the overwhelming majority of our people.

It is also within this framework that we should carefully engage and challenge the class content of what is sometimes defined as "core" and "non-core" functions. This is because what is core to the working class is fundamentally different from what is "core" to the bourgeoisie. For the working class the "core" is public service to eradicate poverty, to the bourgeoisie their "core" is profit maximisation for capitalists.

All the above therefore means that government alone cannot transform the state. Mass mobilisation, and in particular organised worker and working class power, is essential in the overall process of transforming both governmental institutions and the state. It is also in relation to this task that independent working class power becomes absolutely essential.

However a critical challenge I wish to pose in this context, is to what extent do COSATU affiliates continue to drive and lead COSATU campaigns (eg jobs and building a strong public sector, as opposed to privatisation) in their spheres of organising. For instance to what extent is NEHAWU having a programme of action on domination of private health in our health institutions, profit-seeking and greediness of medical aid schemes, free and compulsory education? Failure to do this tends to isolate the federation as if it is the only body pursuing broader socio-economic campaigns - otherwise the affiliates are okay. This tends to strengthen the federation's detractors.

Proposition 3: NEHAWU is simultaneously part of the Alliance and an indispensable part of building independent working class power in all spheres of power and society, and the two are not in contradiction

Whilst the organised working class does not constitute the entirety of the working class, it is nevertheless the most critical layer of the working class. It is that layer of the working class that has the economic and organisational muscle and revolutionary traditions to play an important role in the overall struggles of the working class.

However the organised component of the working class in itself cannot be able to act as the most critical layer if it is not educated and steeped in the ideology of the working class - Marxism-Leninism. That is why one of the tasks of any trade union, acting together with the communist party, is to ensure the political education of workers in the only ideology of the working class.

The starting point and the aim of this education (coupled together with concrete struggles) is for workers to develop a deeper understanding that being part of an alliance with other class forces (as reflected in the nature of the ANC) does not mean the surrender of the interests of the working class. And to have an independent character does not preclude the working class from entering into alliances with, and leading, other class forces. In fact, in concrete conditions of struggle the working class alone, without harnessing other class forces marginalized by the capitalist or oppressive systems, cannot be able to win its struggle in the end. This includes harnessing revolutionary intellectuals committed to advancing the interests and the struggle of the working class.

The twin problems that we normally encounter in our organisations today is to think that by asserting the independence of the working class we are therefore opposed to and against the ANC as a broad based movement, as well as from the democratic government. This is a right wing position that threatens to submerge the interests of the working class to that of other class forces. In concrete terms it asks of NEHAWU to become a sweetheart union, just because we have a democratic government. Sections of this tendency seeks to project itself as more ANC than NEHAWU itself, and seek to project working class independence as meaning being anti-ANC, thus weakening NEHAWU in the name of the ANC. This is in fact an anti-ANC position, as the ANC is an organisation with a working class bias. This would not only weaken NEHAWU, if it stops independently taking up genuine worker interests and issues, but would also weaken the impact of NEHAWU in the struggle to transform the state in favour of the workers and the poor.

The flip side of this argument is that of advancing the idea that in order to secure the independence of the working class and its programmes we need to distance ourselves from broad based mass and liberation movements. In the process workers distance themselves from playing a critical role in the transformation process. This is an extreme leftist position that can isolate the working class from the rest of society. The task therefore is that of becoming both part of the Alliance, without sacrificing the independence of the trade union movement.

The concrete reality that we are in today, in the context of our Tripartite Alliance, is that only, and only workers, belong to the three organisations in our alliance. The bourgeoisie and the middle classes that are part of the liberation movement can only belong to the ANC, and rightly so, as they cannot belong to the SACP, as they are not socialists, nor to COSATU, as they are not workers. The revolutionary petty bourgeoisie and intellectuals, who have committed class suicide, can only belong to both the ANC and the SACP, but not to COSATU, as they are not workers. It is only workers who belong to the three organisations, and it is for this reason that the working class should be the main motive force of the revolution and the glue that should bind the Alliance together.

Of course the task that arises out of this is that workers must belong and build all these three organisations. If workers do not do this, the revolution is in danger. But it is also politically conscious Marxist-Leninist workers who can lead this struggle. Some workers complain that they have to belong to three organisations and this is too much. Yes, they must belong and build the three organisations, because the working class struggle is three times more difficult, and the victory of the working class in this struggle improves the conditions of the workers and the poor three times more!

The concrete tasks that arise out of this for NEHAWU is that its members and leading cadres must play an important role in building all the three organisations of the Alliance and ensure the unity of this Alliance. None of these terrains of organisation, the ANC, the SACP and COSATU can be without workers' presence. Other class forces will occupy the space abandoned by the working class. Because of the strategic location of the working class in this alliance, the unity of the alliance can only happen if key components of the working class, like NEHAWU, are themselves united. Unity of the Alliance, and the foundation for that is the unity within each of the components of the Alliance. So in this case unity of the Alliance starts with the unity of NEHAWU.

Let us raise some issues on the question of the need for unity in NEHAWU. We are aware that you have come out of a very difficult period, characterised by tensions and internal conflict. This Congress must therefore be used to cement NEHAWU unity. You cannot contribute to unity in the alliance if you yourselves are not united. It is for this reason that those faceless characters circulating derogatory pamphlets within the union, on the eve of congress, cannot be regarded as builders of unity. They are the dividers of the union. They are counter-revolutionaries. IMIDLWEMBE! They are also cowards because they fear raising their concerns in open and democratic processes of the union.

These faceless pamphlets also emerged in the run up to the SADTU Congress two years ago, attacking some of the leaders of that union, including collusion with bourgeois media. This makes us to ask uncomfortable, but absolutely necessary questions. Is this not a concerted counter-revolutionary attack on public sector unions? Is this attack on progressive public sector unions not informed by the fact that they form a critical component of COSATU and have grown significantly over the last ten years? Let us defend our unions against these counter-revolutionaries, for the sake of the NDR and the struggle for socialism.

But this also necessitates that we ask the question of what do we mean by unity? Unity can only be based on collectively advancing the programme of the workers and members of NEHAWU. There can be no unity between those loyally committed to advancing such a programme nd those who are half-hearted or opportunistic about implementing this programme of NEHAWU. There can be no unity between loyal NEHAWU cadres and those who only see NEHAWU as an opportunity to serve their careerist interests. Otherwise we build permanent instability within the union.

Your tasks therefore, beginning with this Congress, is to defeat all forms of opportunism and careerism within the union.

Proposition 4: Significant progress in addressing the needs of the workers and poor during the first ten years of our democracy has happened where the state has played a leading role

This is more of a factual reality than a proposition. At its 2000 Strategy Conference, the SACP made this observation and has been underlined in the government's Ten Year Review. We have made progress in providing water, electricity, housing and telephony only through the parastatals and government programmes. Where we have left these with the private sector, there has been no progress, no investment in low cost housing or micro and small enterprises.

What this means is that only the public sector is best capable of meeting the needs of the overwhelming majority of our people. The key tasks therefore for NEHAWU is to build a strong, accountable and democratic public sector, as the only principal vehicle to meet the needs of our people.

Proposition 5: Building independent working class power in all centres of power and spheres of influence is a fundamental condition for consolidating the NDR in favour of the workers and the poor, and laying the basis for socialism

Let us start by asking the question of what do we mean by independence of the working class. This does not mean isolation or disconnection from the rest of society, but it means what the working class does is based on the mandate of the working class, to serve and advance the interests of the working class. It also means building capacity of the working class to make its impact felt on society based on this mandate. In order to lead society the working class must have its own independent working class organisations, principally the trade unions, the communist party, presence and influence in mass organisations, including building an independent working-class led civic movement to defend the community and residential interests of the working class. Without this independence the working class tails behind other classes and lose sight of its own interests. The working class interests objectively coincide with the interests of the overwhelming majority of our people.

The SACP has adopted a medium term vision (MTV). This medium term vision calls for the building of working class power such that it is able to impact on all the centers of power within the next ten years. It must be such that by the end of the second decade of our freedom, there must be no decision taken by any centre power - public, private and mass - which is not informed by the interests of the workers and the poor.

The key task of NEHAWU in this regard is to ensure that it embraces this MTV as part of its overall programme. Within this context we need to work together to ensure that COSATU's 2015 vision is harmonised with the MTV as the overall vision of the working class.

It is the MTV, with 2015 located within this, that will ensure the building of the hegemony of the working class in the national democratic revolution and laying the basis for building elements of, capacity for, and a momentum towards socialism in our country. It is our belief that none of the problems facing South Africa will be resolved unless there is a transition to socialism in our country. Capitalism is no solution to the problems facing our society. It is therefore important for NEHAWU to play its role by working together with the SACP to educate and build capacity of its members to struggle for socialism.

Proposition 6: The precondition for deepening and consolidating our democratic gains is to build a strong ANC and Alliance, but the fundamental precondition for breaking with the current (capitalist) accumulation regime is to build a strong and hegemonic SACP

We need to make it absolutely clear that one of the most important tasks of NEHAWU is that of building a strong South African Communist Party, as the vanguard of the working class, and as the vehicle to take us to socialism.

Since your last Congress, the SACP has made important advances. In 2001 we launched the financial sector campaign to ensure that resources in the financial sector of our country are used to invest in such a manner that the interests of the working class and its communities are addressed. It is directly as a result of this campaign that today we have a Financial Sector Charter. Through, amongst others, this campaign we have grown the membership of our Party from about 18000 in 2001 to just under 30 000 today. We must also take this opportunity to thank those NEHAWU members who have participated in this campaign.

As a critical component of this campaign we have also taken the struggle forward for the building of a co-operative movement serving the interests of the workers and the poor. Today government is about to table new legislation on co-operatives, particularly co-operative banks, thanks to the SACP led campaign! This campaign has brought together more than fifty organisations to form the Financial Sector Campaign Coalition - the Alliance, co-ops, burial societies, stokvels, women and youth savings organisations - to drive the transformation of this sector.

Some of the other successes of this campaign has been the commitment by government to pass new consumer credit legislation to ensure that we regulate the credit bureaux and ensure that there is an end to discriminatory practices against black consumers in particular. There is a also a commitment by the financial sector to invest about R75bn rands in infrastructure in poor areas. There is also commitment to ensure that the overwhelming majority of the more than 15 million South Africans, who do not have bank accounts, are able to have a bank account. We shall not rest until all these are achieved. We call upon NEHAWU and its members to continue being part of this campaign, as part of the overall struggle to create work and fight poverty.

The key task in this regard by the progressive trade union movement in general, and NEHAWU in particular, is to struggle for workers' pension and provident funds to be controlled by workers such that their investment is used to support job creation and poverty eradication.

It is for this reason that as the SACP we are concerned that much as there is talk about restructuring the Public Investment Company - PIC - which manages your pension and provident funds, the voice of public sector workers is not being adequately felt. We cannot allow the PIC to be just corporatised only to support the creation of a new black elite, and continued accumulation by white finance capital, without benefit to the workers and their communities. I would plead that a special resolution be adopted at this Congress to ensure that NEHAWU, together with other progressive public sector workers, seriously engage with the PIC to ensure that the interests of the workers and the poor are prioritised. You can, and you must do it.

All these are part of struggles to lay a foundation towards building socialism in our country. However, it is important to ensure that in order to move towards this goal, workers deepen their international work through worker solidarity. For instance it is important for NEHAWU to deepen its relations with Swaziland public sector workers in their struggle to create a democratic Swaziland; to build stronger links with Western Sahara public sector workers towards the independence and liberation of that country. It is also crucial to work with Palestinian public sector workers who are daily being butchered by the Sharon terrorist regime, and deepen solidarity with public sector workers in Cuba (almost all workers in socialist Cuba are in the public sector!) in their struggle against the criminal and unjust US blockade!

However a key priority is that of forging closer links with public sector workers in our continent. South Africa cannot be an island of strong and progressive working class formations without seeking to assist in building these and a strong working class consciousness in our continent. For instance, the SACP is more than willing to work with NEHAWU - and we have some concrete suggestions and ideas in this regard - to undertake joint Southern African worker political education initiatives. We would like to engage the incoming NEHAWU leadership in this regard.

Let us support these broader working class campaigns and ensure an even stronger SACP. Let this Congress be a Unity Congress! Let us do all these things, with and for the sake of the NEHAWU members, with and for a working-class led NDR, with and for Socialismů. With and For Workers and the Poor!

With these words we wish you a successful Congress!


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